Summoning - Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame
Napalm Records
Blackened Symphonic Folk Metal
8 songs (56'28")
Release year: 2001
Summoning, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex

With Summoning it is a proverbial you “get it” or you “don’t get it” situation. I will be very honest with you. At first, I “didn’t get it”. It all had to do with expectations of what I was about to hear. What I expected was a melodic Viking Medieval oriented black metal – a popular genre nowadays. Instead I heard … Summoning, a duo of musicians from Austria, with their own approach to creating heavy music.

This is how I can describe best what Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame is. The music is, indeed, rooted in symphonic black metal, but you wouldn’t recognize it right away. One of the main reasons – Immortal-like riffs are being played on the guitar several times slower than the conventional pace. And that is when the guitar is present at all. At times, it is not even heard. Instead, you have layers and layers of keyboard orchestration. More layers than in the famous Outback Blooming Onion. The keyboard can play the main melody, or its numerous arrangements. With arrangements you have a choice of going with the war trumpets, flute, trombone, etc. All sounds are programmed, I understand, but sound very natural. To help slow the rhythm down, and create a minimalist approach altogether, the drums are programmed into a slow pounding monotonous fashion. Harsh and low tone they sound like an army of Vikings beating their swords and axeblades on one large hollow wooden trunk. As I said, the rhythm of this pounding is slow, using half of the normal beat frequency, creating a trance-like atmosphere. Vocals complete the picture. Black references are the most appropriate in this department. Withdrawn tribal chanting is prevalent, but there are also higher pitched blackened shrieks and death-like low grunts. Protector and Silenius alternate on vocals, and each musician colors the song with his own approach. Choral effects coupled with the epic atmosphere on South Away sent goose bumps down my spine. The lyrics are not audible, and the booklet has no text lines in it, so I am unable to tell you what the band’s lyrical message is.

It is when I fell into this trance state I started “getting” and enjoying Summoning’s music. As minimalist as it appears on the surface, I encourage multiple listens. The melodies are folk inspired, and will immediately whisk you away to an Enchanted Forest. The one where dwarves meet elves around the camp fire and every night is Halloween night. I am warning you though. This is not an Enchanted Forest you would want to mess with. Don’t even dare entering it without big fat book of spells warding you from evils lurking around every corner. Some melodies are bordering on militaristic marches (South Away), others are quiet waltzes (Ashen Gold). It is beautiful in a way that this music will allow your imagination to run wild. Each composition is a story and you are the storyline writer.

One would expect an album like this to pay a big homage to production values. It is, in fact, good, but the album is definitely not overproduced which allows it to maintain a certain raw edge. One shouldn’t expect Medieval music to be polished.

Critics may say that the music is very repetitive in nature, and presents very few ideas from one composition to another. A classic case of “you have heard one song you have heard them all”. I encourage you to be patient, continue to relax, fall into a trance and seek nuances in this album.

Thinking probably that American public wouldn’t “get it” Napalm decided not to go for a worldwide distribution of this album. Getting the CD and then really “getting” the music may present you with a chockfull of unexpected hours of listening pleasure.

Killing Songs :
It will be ALL or NOTHING for you
Alex quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Summoning that we have reviewed:
Summoning - Minas Morgul reviewed by Andy and quoted CLASSIC
Summoning - Old Mornings Dawn reviewed by Andy and quoted 91 / 100
Summoning - Dol Guldur reviewed by Tony and quoted 92 / 100
Summoning - Oath Bound reviewed by Alex and quoted 85 / 100
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